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Tech: Inside 2011 Mustang's New 5.0

We take a closer look Ford's new 412hp wonder.


12-29-09: We have been hearing about this all new wonder from Ford for the better part of a year now. The first spy photos of the Ford 5.0 came almost a year ago, giving everyone a good set of visuals that told us one thing for sure. This was an all new animal. This was going to be different. And that is exactly what the new 2011 Mustang 5.0 engine is, a new chapter in Ford motoring history.

The secret to getting 412hp and 390 ft-lb of torque goes in large part to what Ford calls Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) technology. The system give precise variable and independent control of timing for both intake and exhaust valves. Independent adjustment of intake and exhaust valve timing allows maximum fuel economy at part-throttle, while delivering optimized power in full-throttle situations.

An added benefit is improved drivability and responsiveness across the torque curve because the cam timing can be instantly dialed in at any given time. Prior to this technology timing had to always be a trade-off between power, efficiency, and drivability - a single best compromise setting had to be accepted.


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Ti-VCT rotates the camshafts to advance or retard the cam timing, based on several measures including throttle opening. An element unique to the Mustang GT 5.0-liter V-8 application is that Ti-VCT is actuated by camshaft torque, with assistance from pressurized oil. Using camshaft torque energy provides faster throttle response and maximizes use of existing energy, to aid fuel economy. Working like a ratchet, the one-way valves allow precise timing of camshaft events, continually optimizing timing to provide maximum thrust or fuel economy, based on driver input.

All-new aluminum four-valve-per-cylinder heads feature a compact roller finger follower valvetrain layout leaving more room for high-flow ports for free-breathing performance. Head structure was designed to support higher cylinder head pressures and cross-flow cooling for sustained high-rpm use. Head bolt size was increased from 11 to 12 millimeters to contain the higher combustion pressures.

Also notable are the tubular exhaust headers that will come standard on the 2011 Mustang 5.0 GT. Not seen since the small bock-5.0 engine left us in 1995, the headers offer additional power and a sound all their own to the new 2011 Mustang. It was not easy for the engineers who fought hard to make them part of the new engine.

“The greatest obstacle we faced on the 5.0-liter was getting the fabricated exhaust manifolds into the program,” said Adam Christian, Intake, Combustion, and Exhaust engineer. “Initial supplier prototypes failed to meet program objectives, and we were running out of time. Computational Fluid Dynamics Analyst Beth Dalrymple and I quickly finalized the computer-aided engineering (CAE) design and I built the prototype manifolds in my home workshop.”

Christian’s handcrafted manifolds were instantly installed on a development engine and dynamometer-tested, yielding an incremental increase of 6 horsepower and 14 additional ft.-lb. of torque. The home-grown headers became benchmarks for production pieces. The entire process took two weeks.

“This engine has so many attributes,” said Christian. “It’s got a broad, useful torque curve, high specific output and high technology. Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) allows us to have our cake and eat it, too. Ti-VCT, the 11:1 compression ratio, aggressive fuel shutoff on closed throttle – all combine to allow this engine to deliver unexpected fuel economy.”

The new engine is built to take the punishment Mustang owners will be dishing out too. The aluminum block was developed for optimized windage and oil drainback under lateral conditions and high rpm, such as a track-day outing for an enthusiastic owner and driver. Increased main bearing bulkhead widths and nodular iron cross-bolted main bearing caps with upsized bolts were also employed to accommodate the significant performance increase.

An additional element is the increased capacity and baffling of the deep-sump stamped steel oil pan to enable sustained high-rpm use and offer the convenience of 10,000-mile oil change intervals. Piston-cooling jets also were incorporated for performance-minded customers and for faster oil warm-up on cold start.

“Knowing our most enthusiastic Mustang GT customers will be aggressively driving their cars in club track-day events, autocrosses and other grassroots motorsports opportunities really pushed the team to make the all-new 5.0-liter V-8 a durable powerhouse,” said Harrison proudly. “Oil drainback has been optimized to allow for sufficient lubrication, even under lateral, high-rpm conditions such as high-speed cornering at a closed track event.” Mike Harrison, Engine Programs Manager.

From our perspective, Ford has really got its Coyote by the tail. From the looks of this new engine, it is going to be one for the books. That is not something many people said of the modular family when it first made its debut. The new 5.0 already has momentum and it hasn’t even hit the ground yet.

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